On his radio and television shows, Bill O'Reilly claimed that the food-stamp provision in the economic recovery bill will not stimulate the economy. But economists, including the director of the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office and a reported adviser to the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain, disagree.
On the January 28 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly claimed that "increased food stamps" included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 have "nothing to do with stimulating the economy." Earlier in the day on his radio show, O'Reilly similarly claimed that "enhanced food stamps" in the bill are "not gonna help the economy at all. That will not help the economy one bit." He added: "In fact, in the entitlement realm, just giving people money who are poor is about $250 billion. Some of that money will be spent. Some of it, like food stamps, you know, it's not gonna help the economy." In fact, as Media Matters for America has noted, economists -- including Congressional Budget Office director Douglas W. Elmendorf and Mark Zandi, the chief economist and co-founder of Moody's Economy.com, who was reportedly a McCain campaign economic adviser -- have said that extending food stamps does, in fact, provide economic stimulus.
In January 27 testimony before the House Budget Committee, Elmendorf stated: "Transfers to persons (for example, unemployment insurance and nutrition assistance) would also have a significant impact on GDP." He added, "Because a large amount of such spending can occur quickly, transfers would have a significant impact on GDP by early 2010. Transfers also include refundable tax credits, which have an impact similar to that of a temporary tax cut."
Additionally, in 2008 congressional testimony, Zandi stated that "extending food stamps are [sic] the most effective ways to prime the economy's pump" and cited extending food stamps and unemployment insurance payments as having a greater "Fiscal Economic Bank for the Buck" than any other potential stimulus provision he analyzed, including temporary and permanent tax cuts. Zandi further explained: "People who receive these benefits are very hard-pressed and will spend any financial aid they receive within a few weeks. These programs are also already operating, and a benefit increase can be quickly delivered to recipients."
During his "Talking Points Memo" segment on The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly stated: "[T]here are billions for increased food stamps, child care, and other entitlements have nothing to do with stimulating the economy." He continued: "Nancy Pelosi and her band of the merry liberals want the federal stimulus bill to stimulate the nanny state. Social engineering should be a separate matter. Mrs. Speaker, don't disguise it as economic stimulus."
From the January 28 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: Last week, another 70,000 jobs were lost. There's no question the USA is in major economic trouble. Any debate about the worthiness of the stimulus is useless now because it's gonna happen. President Obama is staking his entire future on it.
But what is vitally important is that the money is spent well and honestly. President Obama promises to do that and says you can follow all the spending on recovery.gov.
Now, "Talking Points" is skeptical that the feds will spend our tax dollars wisely, because in the past, they have not. So, Paul Revere -- that's me -- has an obligation to suggest some constructive ideas to help the process, and here they are.
O'REILLY: And then there are billions for increased food stamps, child care, and other entitlements have nothing to do with stimulating the economy. Nancy Pelosi and her band of the merry liberals want the federal stimulus bill to stimulate the nanny state.
Social engineering should be a separate matter. Mrs. Speaker, don't disguise it as economic stimulus.
President Obama promises transparency and honest government. OK. Let's start with the stimulus bill.
From the January 28 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:
O'REILLY: Now, to the president's credit, he gets right to work. And he is gonna kick in, I would say 500 billion, with a "B" -- about 350 billion already kicked in -- about a new 500 billion to try to jump start the economy and prevent a severe recession. We're in a recession now, but it's not severe in the sense that we're not over 10 percent unemployment. We're not there yet. We could be, and this is why Obama's trying to do it.
All right. Here's what Obama said today. Roll the tape.
OBAMA [audio clip]: I know that there are some who are skeptical of the size and scale of this recovery plan. And I understand that skepticism given some of the things that have happened in this town in the past. That's why this recovery plan will include unprecedented measures that will allow the American people to hold my administration accountable. Instead of just throwing money at our problems, we'll try something new in Washington. We will invest in what works. Instead of politicians doling out money behind a veil of secrecy, decisions about where we invest will be made public, on the Internet, and will be informed by independent experts whenever possible.
O'REILLY: OK, fair enough. Let's go down the list of what is in play right now, and I hope President Obama is listening, because I'm gonna tell you what's good and what's bad.
All right, the first thing is that every worker in America under a certain income level is gonna get between $500 and $1,000 sent right to them. Now, Bush tried that, as you know, last spring, and it did not work. It did not work.
So, that's the first thing. Now, that's not a tax cut; that's a giveaway. You'll get a check. Would I veto that? Probably not. I'd probably try it again, but I don't have any confidence that that is gonna do very much.
Secondly, the parents of 16 million children, in addition to what's on the rolls now, will get a further child tax credit. And 30 million people will get enhanced food stamps. That's not gonna help the economy at all. That will not help the economy one bit.
In fact, in the entitlement realm, just giving people money who are poor is about $250 billion. Some of that money will be spent. Some of it, like food stamps, you know, it's not gonna help the economy.
Three -- Social Security is gonna be propped up. Four hundred and fifty dollars is gonna be sent to older people. Again, that will probably be spent. So, that's OK.